Power would give up win to help Newgarden beat Dixon to title

David Malsher-Lopez
·2 min read

Newgarden, the two-time and defending NTT IndyCar Series champion, is the only driver who can prevent Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon from clinching a sixth title.

Over the past four races, he’s cut Dixon’s championship lead from 117 points to 32, but still arrived at St. Pete with a mountain to climb. Even if Newgarden wins the race and gains two bonus points for leading the most laps tomorrow, Dixon need only finish ninth to flick the title from his rival’s grasp.

The intriguing potential scenarios continued in qualifying today, however, with Newgarden – defending St. Pete winner – able to take only eighth spot on the grid, and Dixon down in 11th.

However, in a 100 lap race, with teams weighing up the pros and cons of a two or three-stop strategy, it’s feasible for either Tim Cindric [Newgarden’s strategist] and Mike Hull [Dixon’s strategist] to spring their drivers further forward. Their chances are further enhanced by the fact that their respective crews Penske #1 and Ganassi #9 pit crews have been superior to their rivals all year in terms of slick stops.

So despite Power taking his fifth pole of the year today and scrapping for third place in the championship with Colton Herta of Andretti Harding Steinbrenner Autosport and Arrow McLaren SP’s Pato O’Ward, the 2014 champion said he would be prepared to sacrifice track position if Newgarden needed help.

In the post-qualifying press conference, Power was asked if it had crossed his mind what he’d do if Dixon was running poorly and Newgarden required only track position on Power to clinch the championship.

“Yeah, it has,” said Power, who is seeking his 40th Indy car win. “I mean, obviously if that's the situation, I would let him go.”

Nevertheless, Power added that his main focus is on getting himself in a position to win the race, as it would give him three wins in five races, which he sees as crucial to building momentum for 2021.

“It would be amazing to win the last race of the season” he said. “It would really make this year worthwhile for me. I would feel very good about it. Get to go on vacation feeling good about the finish of the year.

“Super-determined about converting the pole into a win… We have to come into next year with very solid pit stops and solid races and we have to get ourselves in a championship position so we're not in a hole, having to dig ourselves out the whole way. There’s just been too many years we've done that.

“That's a huge focus of mine going into next year.”